Video, Why Bother?

I’ve been having an interesting discussion at work lately. And by lately, I mean the last 2 years. Whenever the topic of marketing comes up, I suggest videos. And the response from almost everyone is:

“No one watches video.”

At which point the conversation is essentially over, because if you believe that no one is watching video, then, all my facts and figures about how video is the most popular format on the web aren’t going to have any effect.

Infographic of "Why Video is the Best form of Engagement" frm

What I think is happening when people are saying “no one watches video” what they are actually saying is:

“I don’t watch video, and don’t see the value of information shared this way.”

That is a discussion I need to start because video is fun! With video, tutorials become a lot more transparent, with video we can give library staff a voice and possibly face when they are communicating.

There are a lot of ways that video can help us add value to our community.

  • Storytimes
  • Puppet shows
  • Technology Tutorials
  • Book talks
  • Interviews with authors
  • Personal Histories
  • Highlighting Collections

This small set of ideas would mean that kids and their parents could re-visit their favourite programs, or watch one that they had  missed, or someone troubleshooting an ebook issue at home would be able to get help even when the library is closed. We could be adding to the historical record of our community by creating and sharing personal histories. And by putting faces and names to our staff, we are creating connections with the community without every leaving the building! (But we should do that as well). Video can act as an archival activity, creating a record for future staff and the community.

So, video is valuable. It is also not that hard. At least once you get over the embarrassment of hearing your own voice.

There are lots of different tools to create and edit video (I’m really fond of Camtasia at the moment), but really all you need is a script (words!) and patience (a real useful skill for library work). Building videos really fits with library work – providing information, attention to detail, sharing…

And because I might as well put myself in as a guinea pig, here is one of my most recent videos.

Dealing with Stress

Despite being tagged as one of the least stressful jobs, working in a library is not without stress. Often, long hours in customer service, worries about budgets, project management, people management, programs, collections, co-workers…. and then there are the stressors of our non-working lives.

We all have days where we feel worn down, stretched too far, and wondering what we are doing.

What can we do to be less stressed?

There are lots of tips about stress management available online, but I recommend “creative activities”. Carving, painting, pottery, knitting, baking, gardening, wood working, car restoration, creative writing, scrap-booking…


  1. Repetitive tasks are relaxing (and can act as anti-depressants)
  2. Activities where you complete a project are really great when you work in an area where you don’t always get a chance to see your finished product, or where your finished product isn’t something you can touch.

Anyway, try something new, something that where you create and become less stressed!

Not Knowing the Answer

I’m going to try and get back into the blogging habit, since I find it a helpful exercise, and reflection is an important part of my work that I tend to ignore. (More on that at another time.)

Sometimes not only is there no easy answer, there is no answer at all.

And that is scary.

I had the opportunity to take a one-day course on Leading Change. It has already had a significant impact on the way that I think about my project work, and my ongoing responsibilities.

There were a lot of neat tools one was: Project Management is the thing (hardware software, activity), change management is the people. And the people part is just as important as the project itself.Change is hard. Here is a perplexed looking schnauzer to make it seem a bit easier.

Also, resistance to change is normal. Have a plan that involves upfront communications (and feedback if possible), sponsorship of your project (think champions of your change), and have those champions model the change and reinforce the change.

The scary part of the day came near the end, when we were reviewing a list of questions and statements that might come up in response to a change.

Some were easy to address “There wasn’t a problem with how we did it before, why are we changing things?” and “There are more pressing problems for us to address right now”, I could explain why we were making the change or what processes were in place.

The second page of questions included:

“I am concerned about my ability to learn the new skills required for this change to be successful”


“This is going to require me to alter some of the belief I hold in how business should be conducted”


“This change will require me to learn a lot of new information or viewing existing information differently.”

And I found myself checking the “Truth” box next to those questions and the action plan box sat empty.

These are big questions. These are things that come up when you are changing people’s perceptions in how they do their jobs- why they do their jobs. It isn’t always verbalized, but if you ask yourself “What is really being said?” This might be what you are hearing.

And (as an added issue) in the library world, often a good part of our personal identity is tied up in our work. “I am a library technician” or “I am a librarian” and “that means that I do ___”. Find books for people, act as a gatekeeper, answer reference questions…. To some people it means  that they are an expert in information.

Acting as an agent of change (my unofficial job title) around digital initiatives means that I am almost constantly causing people to doubt their skills and their ability to appropriately meet the needs of the public. When I need people to learn new skills, they can feel like they are no longer experts in their jobs. They can (and do) feel like I am changing what it means to work in a library. And that is understandably scary for them.

I don’t know that there is a fix for this. There is no easy answer to these questions, that is for sure.

But, even if I don’t have any answers, I can commit to taking time with staff and supervisors who are afraid of what the impact of changes are having on their perception of their jobs, and their identity, and work with them to adapt, and find the places where things are still going to stay the same.

How do you deal with someone who is worried about the future of their job? Their profession?

The Forest and the Trees

Lots of people talk about January being a depressing month. As someone who was born in January, I try not to take that route.

Four days ago marked my first year on the job. I have had a year chock full of learning. I’ve had to learn how to: write good proposals, be patient, co-ordinate projects, work on a adult services desk (and a youth services desk), work with iTunes profiles, run a staff training program, and be patient (yes, I mentioned that twice). All are skills that I’ll have to continue to hone over years to come. There have been fantastic weeks, and weeks where there just weren’t enough hours in the day.

Like many library staffers, I spend some time on social media (if by some, I mean a lot). Twitter, blog posts, mailing lists, and some occasional forays onto the #libraryproblems Tumblr. It is very easy to get caught up in the gripes and stresses around us.

I would never claim that the profession doesn’t have flaws. That there aren’t a lot of hinky things occurring in Federal libraries. That funding is always perilous, and the tug-of-war between moving forward and keeping hold of our traditional services isn’t real.

But – and this isn’t said enough – people who get to work in libraries are working in some of the best places in the world. Libraries of all types and locations are fantastic, even with the stresses they bring.

Every day we get to support our communities by providing them with resources, helping them make connections, and offering programming that informs, sparks creativity, and entertains. We get to brighten someone’s day with a conversation and a good book, we get to investigate tough questions, and help people learn new skills. And so much more.

I know how lucky I am to be working in a public library, that my job is fantastic, and that there isn’t anything better for me out there.

Do you?